SIOUX FALLS, SD (Dakota News Now) — Raymond Schmidt spends a lot of time on a mower.
“In the spring of 1999, I started my mowing business. In the year 2000, I got the mowing job here at St. Mary’s Cemetery,” Raymond said.
For more than two decades, the 65-year-old, who grew up near Dell Rapids, has made this resting place look good.
“My sister helps me a lot too. And we are very proud of it. We love that it looks great. I like everything, I guess. I grew up on a farm and farmed for many years,” Raymond said.
“His work is not only Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm. He is here all the time. He comes on weekends if it’s going to rain or if there are thunderstorms. He’s here to get ahead. He just does a good job. Sometimes on a Saturday night around dusk, we drive by and here is Raymond mowing,” said Dell Rapids native Joni Hauglid.
“We took a long time. Especially before Memorial Day that week. I have three other cemeteries smaller than this, and we’re battling the weather. But this one, we mow it twice before Memorial Day, the Sunday before. Maybe Monday, then the following Thursday and Friday, so it looks fantastic,” Raymond said.
Raymond also weeded around each stone.
“About four, maybe five times a year. I eat low, wide weeds so it’s easier to mow next time. And then I don’t have to do it so often. And then I get a lot of compliments because people say you can really see their tombstones and the beautiful decorations,” Raymond said.
He is also the unofficial tourist guide for the cemetery.
“Sometimes people come here and they walk around and they look like they’re lost. And I’m going to stop and ask them ‘are you looking for a certain family member or something like that’ and if I can help you. And I will tell them because I know a lot of stones or I can approach you very closely in this area. It’s very personal because there’s mom and dad. And up to our Schmidt section, aunts and uncles, grandfather and grandmother, and then my mother was a Schwebach. On the Schwebach side, there are grandfather and grandmother, aunts and uncles, cousins and cousins of the Schmidts too. And a lot of family, and a lot of friends, and all that stuff too,” Raymond said.
Her family planted these pines in 2006, to honor her mother with some of her memorial money. St. Mary’s Cemetery is a labor of love for Raymond.
“And it means a lot to the Dell Rapids community who come to visit loved ones here, to have such a beautiful place to look,” Joni said.
“It’s very rewarding work. It’s a good job. I love it,” Raymond said.
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